The Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA) has criticised the federal government’s new carbon tax, saying fuel hikes of six cents per litre “will add millions of dollars to regional operators’ costs”.
“The Prime Minister claims that the carbon tax is aimed at the big polluters, but the regional aviation industry contributes around 0.2 per cent of the nation’s total carbon emissions. The fact that the tax is being applied via the aviation fuel levy to regional aviation, an industry that barely emits carbon and which actually acts as an alternative to other carbon producing transport options, makes a mockery of the Prime Minister’s claim,” RAAA CEO Paul Tyrrell argued.
The RAAA also said that a lack of alternative fuel options would mean regional operators “cannot change their carbon emission behaviour”, unless they pull out of the industry all together.
Regional Express (Rex) is one regional carrier that has strongly criticised the carbon tax and other government decision which impact regional aviation, saying that the removal of the en route rebate scheme for regional airlines, the additional fuel excise and “increased security at regional ports” as factors which would equate to a loss of at least $6 million per annum for the airline.
“Rex has already announced in its release of 1 June 2011 that the outcome of these measures could be the loss of air services to half a dozen marginal regional ports like Taree and Grafton,” Rex COO Chris Hine warned.
“I foresee many regional operators without the financial strength and diversification of the Rex Group being forced out of business once these take effect after 1 July 2012. Those surviving will have to cut back on marginal routes in order to remain in business. This will unfortunately mean that some regional communities will suffer the loss of their essential air services,” Hine added, calling on the federal government to “strongly reconsider its position on regional air services”.